Friday, October 24, 2014

Even cannibals eat healthy

How many sweet potatoes must you examine before you find one that looks like your pancreas?

Fewer than you might think. 

You know you've done it, right?  At Thanksgiving time for sure:  You find yourself in the produce aisle, lingering near the potato bin.  But you won’t randomly select the first of those tuberous roots that you encounter. 

Admit it.  You surreptitiously scrutinize each one, turning it over in your hand as if you were considering a long term relationship.  You won’t settle.  No run-of-the-mill kidney-shaped spud will do.

Maybe, just maybe, subconsciously perhaps, you’re checking to see if that sturdy yam looks like your pancreas.

Could be creepy, but don’t worry.  According to Woman’s Day, pretty much every “oblong sweet potato bears a strong resemblance to the pancreas.”

But this isn’t just another one of those your-pancreas-looks-like-a-potato stories.  There’s more.

The really peculiar part?  According to Web MD, sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, which is a potent antioxidant that protects a certain organ from the damage associated with cancer and aging.

That’s right:  Sweet potatoes promote healthy function of the pancreas, the very same organ they resemble…hmmm.  

This pearl of healthy eating emerged this morning when, coincidentally, I was reading about how eating walnuts helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease. 

I couldn’t help thinking that walnuts look like little brains and wasn’t it just the weirdest of flukes that eating that miniature brain-nut twin would be beneficial to a person’s actual brain?

So of course I Googled “foods that look like body parts,” and man!  I hit the nutrition pyramid jackpot! 

The coolest thing is that not only do some foods look like human organs and appendages (ahem!), but also those same foods are beneficial to those very same anatomical, uh…things.

Therefore, walnuts are good for your brain and pancreatic-looking yams are good for your pancreas! 

Here’s another one from Elizabeth Somer, registered dietician and author of “Eat Your Way to Happiness”:

Red wine looks like blood!  OK, duh.

But…drumroll…When you drink red wine, you're loading up on resveratrol – the healthy stuff that protects against destructive things in the blood!  Be gone LDL cholesterol!

Your cabernet can even reduce blood clots courtesy of the blood-thinning compound built in at the vineyard.

O. M. G!

Now admittedly, some of the examples cited stretch the imagination.  To wit:  Does ginger root really resemble a stomach?  I guess if you have time on your hands you might be able to unearth a chunk of ginger root that is stomach-shaped – assuming it’s the stomach of a 127-year-old desert dweller.

But every mother knows that ginger ale soothes a tummy ache.  And that is thanks to the effects of gingerol, the ingredient responsible for ginger's pungent scent and taste.  Gingerol is listed in the USDA database of phytochemicals having the ability to prevent nausea and vomiting.

Slice open a tomato and voila!  Multiple chambers that resemble the structure of a heart!  And, "Studies have found that because of the lycopene in tomatoes, there is a reduced risk for heart disease in men and women who eat them," says Somer.

The cross section of a carrot reveals a pattern of radiating lines that mimic the pupil and iris.  And noshing on carrots helps decrease the chance of macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in older people according to Sasson Moulavi, MD, medical director of Smart for Life Weight Management Centers in Boca Raton, Florida.

There are even corresponding body parts for avocados, clams and grapefruits that we will leave to your speculation.  Suffice it to say that eating them is good for you in a reproductive sort of way. 

Makes you wonder about kiwis.

Celery?  Of course, bones!  Tibia.  Femur.  Ulna.  Radius.  Really.

Logically then, a person could adjust her grocery shopping according to any current ailment or deficiency. 

I can’t help wondering about the reverse perspective though – fruit or vegetable first, body part after.  But then, mangoes?  Baby bok choy?  Artichokes?!!  What in the human anatomy??

Web MD offers a list of 20 Common Foods with the Most Antioxidants and it is skewed toward beans, with #1 being the “small red bean.”

So the analogy may be flawed.  I’ll consult my Gray’s.

Meanwhile, eat your vegetables.